Residents recently received a letter in the mail from Scott McDonald, lead/senior business developer for Avangrid Renewables. Avangrid is the wind development company looking to build the North Ridge Wind Farm in Hopkinton.
This letter states specific benefits that the proposed project would bring to our town. I would like to take the time to respond to each of these based on information I have:
• They are committed to paying an estimated $750,000 in annual PILOT/Host Community Agreement payments over 30 years: As of this date, no agreements have been made with the wind developer. It was imperative that a wind law was approved and filed with NYS before any discussions take place. After taking the school and county’s share out of the PILOT agreement, the town would receive the balance of the $750,000. There have been no formal conversations with the developer regarding a Host Agreement. Also, note that any host agreement would come out of the total $750,000 that was stated, leaving the school district and the county with less revenue. Questions would need to be answered regarding how funds from a host agreement could be used. There are three (3) school districts within the Town of Hopkinton, but only Parishville-Hopkinton School would get a share of the funds. The fire district is estimated to receive $30,000 to $40,000 annually. In further discussion, Mr. McDonald stated the turbines would have a separate assessment. This assessment would be used to determine the amount of district taxes that would need to be paid. This amount was based upon figures paid to other fire districts where wind projects are located. This does bring up a question as to how the assessment could be figured for a special district but not for the town to assess.
AvanGrid has agreed to pay up to $30,000 for the cost of an appraiser: This was done only after both towns (Parishville and Hopkinton), Parishville-Hopkinton School and St. Lawrence County asked for this. This should be done so comparisons can be made of full taxation vs. a PILOT.
• Extending offers of direct annual payments totaling $67,000 over 30 years to landowners with permanent residences located within 3,000 feet of a turbine location: This is money that will be paid directly to landowners and has nothing to do with the town.
• Electric Bill Offset program for town residents: 75% of their annual residential electrical bills for 30 years, up to $1,200 / year. Upon further questioning, it was stated it would only be offered to residents with permanent residences in the town except for those having an existing agreement (lease, easement or GNA) or municipal officials. Also, before any agreements are made on this, we would need to find out what kind of tax implications this could cause. Would people be given a 1099 Misc. form to submit with their income tax? Is this based on the total monthly bill or just the usage part? What agreements would need to be signed for this?
• Reducing the project’s visual impact by installing FAA approved radar-activated lighting system: While we are not within the 40 mile radius of Ft. Drum, we are on their flight path. We are also on the flight path to Burlington. Therefore, the lights would still be blinking quite frequently.
• Bullies: While some meetings have been more vocal than one would hope for and emotions have run high, bullying is not the correct word to use. There have been boos and clapping but that cannot be considered as bullying. The Concerned Citizens for Rural Preservation (CCRP) have videotaped every meeting. What happens on social media or via newspapers is out of the control of the town board. Residents that are afraid to speak up at the public meetings are encouraged to send an email or place a phone call.
As technology has changed and more information is available, this law focused on areas from the 2011 law that needed to be improved. The town board has not denied the wind towers. We have worked together to review the recommendations that were presented from the Wind Advisory Board, as well as the St. Lawrence County Planning Board. The board listened to residents at board meetings, both for and against. Visits were made to surrounding areas with wind projects to hear the pros and the cons.
We were elected to represent the people and to protect their health and safety. This law fulfills this requirement.
Susan M. Wood
Hopkinton town supervisor
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